It was a dark and stormy night.
Just kidding…it was a moderately overcast and chilly September evening in central Ottawa, and CLASS-A paranormal team was getting ready to investigate the notoriously creepy Highjinx antique shop and community house.
Before the night of the investigation we (CLASS-A), as a team, decided to limit our background research into the location and its claims, in an attempt to remain unbiased. We went in with no expectations and spent the night in this eclectic building blindly (mentally), but with plenty of equipment and eyes & ears wide open.
We not only found some strange happenings and evidence, but we later found out the true history of the location and the experiences of others with the resident spirits. We’re here to share them with you.
The History of Highjinx
The building itself is around 150 years old, dating back to the 1800s. Karen and Leigh, the current owners, believe its timeline backwards goes as such:
- In 2016 they began renting the space together to accommodate their antique business and community outreach program (more on this later), where they presently still occupy the space.
- Before 2016, it was empty/abandoned for about a decade.
- Previously, it was an old tailoring shop.
- Prior to this, it was a Chinese-owned laundry mat (it still has the old laundry tub!)
- And in the beginning it was a family home with a dark (unconfirmed) secret…
The Ghosts of Highjinx
In the 1800s, when it was a family home, and when the street name used to be Hugh Street, legend has it that the husband threw his wife down the basement stairs to her death during a quarrel.
We weren’t able to find records of this, but most legends contain some truths. Furthermore, this Victorian victim was seen by one of the current owners! The apparition was seen at the top of the main staircase (not the basement) in a high-collared blouse, a dark skirt, and tidy pulled-back hair, looking stoic and kind of misty.
Karen and Leigh first noticed activity early on, when they were doing renovations. They found messes and objects moving in a Poltergeist fashion. They experienced a Ouija board, coats, and a teddy all being thrown (vid here!). They’d put a piece of furniture together and come to find it undone later, in shambles. The spirits seemed irritated with the changes and made their presence known. It’s reported that once the owners confronted the energy and demanded respect, the energy felt more welcoming and calm. A presence could still be felt moving and making sounds along the main staircase, second floor, and in the attic.
Customers report feeling a presence by the front door as if vetting the people who come in and which objects stay or leave. They call this spirit “The Walmart Greeter” (LOL). When your store motto may as well be “out with the old, in with the old”, it’s no surprise there’s some energy circulating around the antiques and/or the building and people. In fact, Karen and Leigh told us they had experienced paranormal activity in their previous store location (which also held their antique business). Could the spirits be attached to an object in one of the display cases, or even one of the owners? It’s certainly possible; they still have old antique pieces from their previous business spot in Highjinx!
We weren’t the first team to investigate the location. Another local team found potential evidence when they spent the night. On their thermal cam, a hot spot was detected in the attic. Seconds later, the store cat walked in and laid down directly in the mysterious warm spot. It didn’t seem to be above a warm vent, nor had the cat been laying there before; it was just able to sense it.
CLASS-A’s Investigative Findings
Now, one night is too minor to jump to any major conclusions in either direction, however it was enough time to document some curious things. We began setting up our vast array of equipment around 8 pm, covering every square inch with sensitive mics, broad spectrum cams, and some other avant-garde sensory systems we were studying. We went through our plan and paperwork, making sure everything would be conducted under the scientific method and creating the most controlled environment possible.
Our first experience came in the attic around midnight, when a member swore they saw a cat outside the window sill. We immediately checked out the window only to discover an isolated eavesdropping and no possible escape or entry for an animal to run across the window outside. There was no animal in sight either. Later, when we told Leigh and Karen about this, they weren’t surprised since they’d had a cat pass away there and had also seen glimpses of a ghost cat!
The highlights of our Highjinx night came around 3 am with a series of loud knocks, each separated by a few minutes and getting louder each time. Two of these knocks came fairly on cue after promoting it to happen again. We all sat deadly still and waited as the knock reverberated through the entire building. All knocks came from the same area on the second floor near the main staircase. We didn’t hear anything before or after this period, eliminating most suspicion of the house’s natural creaks and groans. We checked outside the front door for pedestrians and knocked on just about every surface possible to recreate the sound. Karen and Leigh later told us that one of their first forms of communication with the spirits was to do call-back prompts with knocking, where they also received loud knocks back.
We also caught visual evidence and a minor EVP. Using a contrasting depth camera, we captured (in the same vicinity as all the knocks) two massive balls of something solid zooming out of a cabinet and around our team members. They were more solid than orbs, and bigger than any bug or airborne particle, manifesting spontaneously. The EVP we caught was a low ‘mhmm’ following the speech of a team member (the same one who saw the cat and who generally felt more in-tune with a presence in Highjinx than our other members that night). Overall the vibe was still peaceful, yet the old artifacts and super loud bangs made for some spooky and tense moments.
While we can’t say for sure whether or not Highjinx is haunted, we can say that we had some experiences there we couldn’t explain. We can also say for certain that this place is worth checking out for yourself! Karen and Leigh (and the spirits) are very hospitable and they have an open door policy. For years they’ve done so much more than just sell cool antiques; they turn their profits into opportunities to feed and supply vulnerable community members with all the things they need, for free (and without government funding). They’re the safe place that many turn to for the unconditional respect and tough love they need and deserve. Karen and Leigh meet every community member as equals, offering food, warmth, sleep, exchange, and sanction. Supporting their business is an act of solidarity!
“There is no degrading paperwork, there is no rifling through someone’s bank account, there is no judgement or assessment. If you need a toaster you get a toaster.” They’re giving back peoples’ dignity, and that’s the spirit we can believe in.
They hope to one day run it as a haunted bed & breakfast!
Donate here, or, if you are interested in lending a hand please stop by their shop!